The statements expressed on this page are those of Patrick Schmalstig and do not reflect the values and principles of PDStig, LLC as a company.
LoveyCube (The Lovinity Community) was a former support community project I led between about November 2014 and November 2017. It was the sequel to WRRJ Radio when it was shut down.
The project began as "The Lovinity Community" around October / November 2014. I recently moved again to a new location with much better internet. Therefore, I took the technologies used from WRRJ Radio to build The Lovinity Community.
The idea was that this would be an online website community and internet radio station focused not only on spirituality (like WRRJ), but also love and support. It would be a safe space that people could come to for community-powered support and advice on a variety of topics. And it was a place where others could listen to, and host, internet radio programming.
The name, "The Lovinity Community", stemmed from an original My Little Pony character I created in 2014 named Lovinity Hearts. And she was the mascot for the website. She represented unconditional love and had the motto of spreading love to everyone, including your enemies.
I utilized some of the same technologies I did for WRRJ Radio to run the community: Rivendell Radio Automation System (although later I switched to Windows and began using RadioDJ), ocPortal for the website, and some custom scripts to automate the functionality and integration of the radio system.
At first, the membership of The Lovinity Community was small, but quaint. There were about 30 members, mostly from the My Little Pony fandom.
Several of the shows / radio programming from WRRJ Radio were also carried over to what was called "The Lovinity Community Radio", such as Words From the Heart, almost all of the routine meditations, and Friday Night Randomness. The Lovinity Community Radio also hosted an exclusive show teamed with Phoenix 8 Productions called "The Wonderbronies", which was a Brony-centric podcast reviewing and critiquing the latest My Little Pony shows, music, movies, and art. While not very popular, several guests did routinely come on the show.
At some point in 2015 (I cannot remember the exact date), The Lovinity Community was renamed to The Lovinity Community+. While the main premise of the community remained the same, the main differences involved changes to the technology used:
- The website software was upgraded from ocPortal 9 to the brand new Composr CMS version 10. This gave a new look and some new functionality to the site.
- A Discord server was created for the community where members can come together and interact in real-time.
- I created a custom Discord bot to bridge some of the features and functionalities of the website and the Discord server together. It also allowed the (very small at the time) staff team to execute disciplinary actions similar to those that were available on the website. See, at the time, Discord's moderation functionalities were very limited. And there weren't many bots with advanced moderation capabilities at the time. This bot filled in the gaps and also integrated with the internet radio station (e.g. it streamed the station in one of the voice channels at all times). The bot also monitored activity within the Discord and awarded points to member's website accounts for Discord activity (points were already being awarded for website activity, but there needed to be a way to award it for Discord activity).
- The internet radio station was capable of pulling live streams from WWSU Radio and other locations for syndications (e.g. a few shows hosted on WWSU Radio, namely those by the affiliate Phoenix 8 Productions, would air on Lovinity Community Radio at the same time).
Membership grew a little bit in the community. If I recall correctly, it grew to a little over 50 active members. At first, the Discord server and the website experienced some decent activity especially when I started posting weekly events and discussion topics for others to engage. And, despite the staff team being small, we really didn't need much staff at the time because hardly anyone ever broke the rules. This all would eventually change though.
As activity levels dipped, I was a bit at a loss for how to promote the community and get more members and more activity especially considering my network was small. However, another member would join the community (I will call her "Snow") and soon change that. Snow immediately found her place in the community and had some wonderful ideas for improving it. With her help, additional members hopped on board, and the staff team grew as well. Together, we came up with a plan to revitalize The Lovinity Community+, and that would turn into the third "version" of the community: LoveyCube.
LoveyCube was basically the third version of the community. And it started sometime in June 2017 if I recall correctly. While the changes with The Lovinity Community+ were mostly technical, the changes with LoveyCube were mostly organizational. I did make one major technology change in that the website no longer had its own separate member accounts; from this point forward, everyone would use / login the website with their Discord account. And anyone who joined the Discord would automatically have a website account (via their Discord account). This made bridging features between the two much easier, especially disciplinary action which, as more members joined, more members were breaking the rules and needed addressing.
The primary change with LoveyCube was its focus. Instead of simply focusing on being a support server, LoveyCube took a 6-sided approach (hence the "cube"): advice, dating / relationships, current events, role playing, friendships, and life matters. The name "LoveyCube" was a bit of a parody to a My Little Pony website named "Ponysquare".
The secondary change, although still a massive / major one, was a restructuring and expansion of the staff. Snow, who was now co-admin, was largely to thank for getting the ball rolling and the pieces in place. And the rest of the staff also helped immensely in the process. The staff was expanded, and new teams were created to handle new duties within LoveyCube. Furthermore, hierarchies were changed, and new policies were written out (including a staff training program) to ensure transparency and accountability. Not only did we have admins and mods, but now we had developers to help with the technology, mentors to help with being role models and support to members who needed it, ambassadors to promote LoveyCube and handle the PR on the outside, and event planners to regularly put on events.
This was the peak of LoveyCube. The community had a maximum of about 1,100 members with about 350 of them being active. While this was still not a lot by Discord's standards, it was quite a successful number. And it was a perfect number too for the type of community LoveyCube was. People formed close friendships and bonds with each other within the community and felt at home in it largely thanks to the effort of the new / expanded staff team.
Around early November 2017 if I recall correctly, I found myself emotionally burned out. I was going through some personal matters and decided to take a break from LoveyCube as my emotions were affecting my decisions. I passed the reign over to Snow and made her owner of the Discord server and also temporary head admin. I stepped down to take a break with the intent of coming back later when I was stable again, although I was still in the community and also still ran the website and Discord bot.
A couple weeks later, I noticed the staff were revising the policies on how they approached members to get evidence of a rule violation. They followed the proper voting protocol as defined in our new documentation to put the policy into effect, but I still strongly disagreed with the policy. I thought such a policy would ultimately grant the staff too much freedom to harass other members with accusations that were not yet sustained with proper evidence. And thus, it was detrimental to the values of LoveyCube. As such, I requested that they veto the policy. This was rejected (remember, I had given up my admin position at the time temporarily, so this was a completely ethical response).
I was furious though and believed very strongly such a policy would ultimately undermine the values of LoveyCube. I demanded with Snow to be put back in my admin position so I could guide the community back on the right track. This was rejected, citing I was still too unstable to handle the role. I demanded again under the unwritten "founder's clause" (basically, no matter what, you always listen to the founder). The rejection was sustained. Therefore, I decided since the staff / community was drifting away from what I visioned, it was time for me to leave.
I left the Discord server with an announcement summarizing what happened. Though, I still maintained control over the website / radio stream and the Discord bot. The next day, I was privately messaged and told ever since I left, the community has fallen into a state of chaos. I'm not exactly sure what the "chaos" was, nor will I ever know. I decided at that point, the community had to be forcefully shut down before it caused too much harm to those who were in it. Thus, utilizing the bot I still had control over, I wiped the server and demanded Snow permanently shut down and delete the server. She acknowledged, creating her own community in the process for members to go. And, after also shutting down the website and internet radio stream, that was the end of LoveyCube permanently.
Honestly, I don't know much about what happened after I shut down LoveyCube aside from Snow having made a new community (I did not join it, and as far as I was told, they pre-banned me from it anyway). I had a couple staff members livid at me for doing what I did and cut contact / blocked me. Some members and other staff acknowledged what I did and thought it was the right thing to do / was necessary. But a majority of people I just simply lost contact with.
A couple years later, someone who knew one of the head staff members of LoveyCube (and said staff was one of the ones who was livid at me for what I did) found me again on Discord on another server and harassed me about LoveyCube. Luckily, the staff in that particular server had my back and gave a stern warning to them he better knock it off or they'd ban him. And he didn't harass me anymore about it. However, I deleted my Discord shortly after that moment and would later create a new Discord account (although I recently deleted that one too) so it would be harder for anyone else to find me on Discord.
I still get asked every now and again by former members of LoveyCube if there would be another TLC+ / LoveyCube. But my answer is always the same: no, I will never make another community like it again (read more in the conclusion).
Do I regret what I did regarding LoveyCube and wish I hadn't done it / I still was running LoveyCube? Absolutely. However, the past is the past. You cannot change it. It was not meant to be changed. You're supposed to learn from it to make a better future.
I thought about making new communities with similar core values as LoveyCube but with different names. Ultimately, I bailed on these ideas / thoughts. I decided it would be a bad idea to "dig a grave" so to speak. LoveyCube is meant to stay buried, a capsule of time and history. There are several other reasons why I will probably never open another community like LoveyCube again:
- I don't have nearly as much free time as I did back then. I spend most of my time working now via my company, PDStig, LLC.
- My time is valuable now, which means most of what I do now comes at a necessary cost (e.g. no free work) so I can pay my bills. I have more financial responsibilities now than I did back in the LoveyCube days. Thus, if I am to open and run a community, I need to be able to get financially compensated for the time expended on it.
- My personal core values have changed. I'm even less empathic now than I was back in the LoveyCube days. I'm more of a stoic and believe in the necessity of hardship and discomfort as ways for us to grow and learn. These values are not productive at all for a support community. I'll end up hurting people's feelings in the name of "hard truths" instead of actually supporting them.
- I still prefer control and security. If I don't have control and security over my environment, then I lose stability. This is bad in positions of power and leadership. They say there is a big difference between a leader and a boss. I'm a boss, not a leader. I can hold people accountable, but I'm not the person to lead people to achieve their best. I don't even know what to do with myself or how I can unlock my full potential and achieve my best.
- Let's be completely honest. Without Snow and the people she brought on board, LoveyCube would never have happened. The community would have remained in The Lovinity Community+ iteration and would have probably died off sooner from lack of activity. This is because my personal network is very, very small. So it would take another miracle like that to pull off a community with a decent member count and activity. I know this because I have tried... not with similar values as LoveyCube, but Discord communities of other principles, such as debating / intelligent thought, creative writing, meditation, and role playing. None of them got past about 10 members, so I ended up killing them all off as they were not worth my time.
I did, however, learn a lot through the experience of LoveyCube. And I really hope everyone who was a part of the once amazing community are doing well and are successful in life. I do miss LoveyCube and the members and staff that were in it. But again, this was the past... distant past at that. Times have changed. Values and goals have changed. Situations have changed. And life goes on.
I want to be very real with you. The concept which gave birth to this whole project from the start, Lovinity (divine infinite love), is not something I embody anymore. Sure, I still have my original character Lovinity Hearts. And I still sometimes role play as her (though mostly as a human or an angel now). But I've given up on the principle of infinite love.
(And honestly, I don't think I ever embodied it to begin with even when I tried. I'm just not that kind of a person. And a lot of it has to do with not being able to understand people / human nature.)
The need to maintain survival has grown as I grew more independent and have lost more of my social network over the years. I no-longer have anyone I can turn to comfortably for support or advice on the most pressing and deepest of challenges I face. So my values have changed. Now, I'm all about independence. You need to do what you need to do, alone, to ensure your own well-being and survival. You cannot rely on anyone else to provide anything for you, because in the end, you and you alone will be the only person who will always and forever be there for you. And you, and you alone, are the only person who truly understands you. This is a cruel world. You cannot really trust anyone anymore, at least not to the level that Lovinity would necessitate. Everyone has their own motives. And in the end, we are still a species that operates on survival of the fittest.
...you can't love others until you can love yourself. And you can't love yourself if you don't even know what love is anymore.
I don't operate on love anymore. I operate on survival. That's all I can do at this time; I don't have the resources to love. Therefore, Lovinity is not a concept I embody anymore.
However, I still encourage you, where possible, to embody it. This world needs love more than it has ever needed it before. Love has gotten lost among the wars, fighting, crime, and selfish acts of human nature. Please be that person to spread love if you can. Do it for me, do it for the world, and do it for yourself.